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Survival Games and Months of Missed School: How Migrant Children Are Adjusting to New Lives in NYC

08.25.2022 | The CITY | Rita Rodriguez-Engberg, director of immigrant students’ rights at Advocates for Children New York, commended Project Open Arms but raised concerns over whether the city could properly implement the plan amid staff shortages. 

“We’re really happy that the city’s finally paying this level of attention to immigrant families,” she said. “We just really hope that they can actually follow through, and not just for this time, but also for the future, given that we see families coming in in this particular situation throughout the year.” 

Rodriguez-Engberg also has concerns over whether students will be entered in bilingual programs with teachers who speak English and the students’ native language, which is not available in all schools. The alternative would be a teacher trained to teach children of all backgrounds English, but without the support of a teacher knowing the language. 

She said it is also vital for the city to provide students with emotional support, with many having traumas or struggling to adjust to a new  country. 

“If you can imagine for a second sitting in a classroom where everything is happening in English, you can understand how frustrating and maybe just demoralizing that feels for a child,” she said.  Read article